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Yankees 3, Angels 1: Masahiro Tanaka pitches New York to series win

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The Yankees plate three in a wild third inning and hang on for the win behind Masahiro Tanaka.

Too sweet
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When Masahiro Tanaka faced the Angels in Anaheim last month, he took the mound in the first inning with a 5-0 lead. The Yankees scored five more runs in the second, cruising to the blowout win. Tanaka hurled six innings of two-hit, one-run ball in his most dominant outing of the year. Today’s game was a lot tighter, but the result was the same.

Tanaka carried a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning. The Angels hitters made him work, though, taking him into deep counts throughout the day. Tanaka didn’t break, though. He really had his splitter working. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani went a combined 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.

The veteran right-hander allowed a solo shot to Andrelton Simmons in the sixth, and exited the game after completing the frame. His line score was nearly identical to the one he posted in Anaheim. Tanaka allowed one run on three hits while walking three and striking out eight.

The Yankees scored all of their runs in a wild third inning. Aaron Judge led off by scorching a line-drive single to center. The exit velocity was 119.9 mph, making it the hardest-hit ball in MLB so far this season. Judge advanced to second on a wild pitch. After walking Gary Sanchez, Angels starter Garrett Richards uncorked another wild pitch and both runners moved up. Didi Gregorius walked to load the bases and Hicks walked to force in a run.

At that point, Angels manager Mike Scoscia had seen enough and brought Jose Alvarez in to face Greg Bird. Alvarez hit Bird on a 2-1 pitch, forcing in another run. Miguel Andujar knocked in the Yankees’ third run on a groundout to short. The Yankees scored three of the softest runs you’ll ever see, but they all count the same.

The wind blew fiercely all day, confounding both teams. Anything hit high was knocked down and kept in the ballpark. What would normally have been a routine fly out became an adventure. Giancarlo Stanton patrolling right field made a nice diving play on one such fly ball.

The troika of David Robertson Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman each threw a scoreless frame to close out the victory. With the win, Tanaka improves to 6-2 on the year. The Red Sox and Chris Sale lost at home to Atlanta, so the Yankees gain a game in the AL East race. At 33-16, New York is now one game behind Boston.

This was a nice grind of a win for the Yankees. It doesn’t get any weirder than Bird driving in the game-winning run by getting plunked with a pitch.

The Bombers begin a three-game set with the World Series champion Houston Astros tomorrow at Yankee Stadium. Domingo German (0-2, 5.59 ERA) faces off against Justin Verlander (6-2, 1.08 ERA) in the opener. First pitch is 1:05 PM EDT.